COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) – A South Carolina Senate committee passed a bill Wednesday to protect the right to own guns from any federal attempts to register them or confiscate either guns or some types of ammunition. But critics say the bill is not needed and is likely unconstitutional, and they will block the bill on the Senate floor.
The “Second Amendment Preservation Act” passed by a vote of 11 to 8. It says South Carolina would not spend any state money to enforce a federal law or presidential order passed after January 1, 2016 that would limit a person’s right to own a gun, require that a gun be registered or confiscated, or limit types of legal ammunition or accessories.
Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, was chairman of the subcommittee that passed the bill. He voted against it, though. He told fellow senators, “What it is, to be honest with you, is some ‘feel-good’ legislation that says that we believe in the Second Amendment, which I don’t think anybody disputes. But when it takes that next step further and says that this state will not enforce federal laws, I just don’t know that we have the authority to tell the federal government we’re not going to enforce what are the laws of the land.”
Senators did discuss the fact that the bill may be unconstitutional. But Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, says, “It’s not so much a nullification of federal law, it just says we’re not going to enforce. So it would be up to them to have the enforcement piece.”
Still, critics say there’s no need for the bill, since there has been no attempt to limit gun rights. Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, says, “There was no federal order that was enumerated in the bill. What we are witnessing in this General Assembly is an expansion of gun rights in South Carolina out of fear and paranoia.”
He put a minority report on the bill, which blocks it from passing on the Senate floor. He says he’ll block all bills that expand gun rights until the Senate has a full hearing on a bill that would prevent the sale of a gun until a background check has been finished.
In the case of Dylann Roof, who’s charged with shooting nine people at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston last year, he should not have passed a background check, but a clerical error delayed finishing the check. A gun store sold the gun to him after 72 hours, which was legal, even though the background check wasn’t complete.